Difficult to know where to start - so much has happened on board, and off, over the last month.... and so many people have been so very kind and helpful.... but I'm finally about to leave England for Guernsey (anchor chain problems permitting..)
Some days 'i've felt as though I've been lurching from one problem to another - as fast as one thing has been sorted, another (sometimes consequential) problem has arisen... But my helper Nick of 'Yachting Sports' has always come up with great solutions - although we had to admit defeat over the secondary anchor - intended as a 25kg Rocna, I've twice had to make the journey to Poole to exchange it for another, firstly downsizing to a 20kg Rocna and finally having to get a 20kg Delta. The problem was the shape of the Rocna - which is precisely what makes it behave so well, reputedly reliably re-setting itself with a change of tide. Even the smaller Rocna would not stow anywhere on deck without blocking access to cleats or lazarettes and it also could not stow below deck.
My main aim has been to make the boat and all gear safe in rough seas. So lots of fixing in place, in addition to finalizing instrument installation, wiring, rigging, sheet leads, etc, etc, etc....
Paul Lawson, an electrical engineer at Raymarine who has been so helpful when I've had instrument problems over the last few years, kindly came out on "Nereida" with friend Julie one Saturday afternoon to calibrate my instruments and check out the installation. Raymarine are kindly loaning me extra autopilot items free of charge so I will have a complete secondary system - drive unit in place already, course computer and rudder reference unit easily put in place and second control unit available. Of course, a lot of the time I expect to use my windsteering (Hydrovane) which requires no battery power but I'm sure there will be times when I'll be pleased to have the electronic autopilot reliably available.
Paul and Lorna, from the Customs office based in Portsmouth, have been incredibly helpful over VAT paperwork, making several visits to 'Nereida', even out of office hours, and bringing forms to me - thank you for that! They've certainly boosted the image of Customs officials at Hamble Point!!
Susannah, of IMP, has been her usual very friendly & supportive self, and organized sending a dimmer switch at short notice, with Darren, also of IMP, being very helpful over the telephone with advice on the installation - so my dimmable saloon LED lighting is now working fine!
Mandy, of Ocean Safety , has been very helpful on safety gear and I was delighted when ACR offered to donate an EPIRB and floating strobe/'torch light. Andy (and Craig) of Andark Diving at Swanwick were very welcoming and cheerfully supplied new dive gear, giving me excellent help on pricing!
Pauline, of Force 4 Chandlery, has been really great and arranged for Gill to donate warm base and mid layer items - they'll be much appreciated when I'm down in the Southern Ocean...!! She has also donated various other chandlery items for the boat.... there's been so much to think about on the equipment side whilst commissioning 'Nereida' - it's certainly kept me very busy for several weeks now, often into the small hours, keeping tabs on everything. Even this 'blog' is being typed in the early hours..... no other time to do it!!
I've been visiting local supermarkets, trying to provision in advance on certain dried and tinned items - both Waitrose and Tesco have helped with gift vouchers to offset a little of the cost .. 6-7 months of supplies is a lot of food...but I don't fancy getting cockroach eggs mixed in with my flour and rice, hence the provisioning here in England! (The Canaries are notorious for cockroaches - I just hope I can keep them from visiting me!)
I had a visit from BBC Radio Solent and also from the Southampton 'Daily Echo', both of whom intend putting their radio/video interviews on their websites this Friday (tomorrow). They'll be publishing the Justgiving weblink (soon to be added on my 'Links' page) for donations to be made to Marie Curie Cancer Care charity which provides nurses (free of charge) for terminally ill people to live their last days at home with their family instead of in hospital... a worthwhile cause, I believe.
If all goes well, I'll be in Guernsey next week. There, I'll stop for several weeks while I check eveything out, learn to use my new instruments and go sailing regularly to see how the new 'Nereida' behaves.
Postscript Friday 12th June: Thought I'd lost all this last night - but just found it in draft form .... (sigh of relief!!) Today, received post from Raymarine with back-up parts loaned for the circumnavigation - very kind - thank you, Derek! Spent a time chasing around for hydraulic fluid for autopilot - difficult to find but eventually manufacturer of motor unit in Devon helped out so eventually I got suitable fluid. Also received New Zealand chart cards from Navionics for chart plotter, sent at short notice. I'm trying to be ready for unexpected landfall needed in case of problems as I sail around ... strong weather makes breakages more likely, even with a new boat...
New mainsail cover doesn't fit properly and bimini not OK either - not happy about either so will have to deal with them both in Guernsey... Also, anchor chain just turned up ungalvanised ... major problem to be resolved still but I have 100m of multiplait rope to use in meantime, if needed . So much still to deal with.....
Went for a short sail in Solent with Nick and James in the late afternoon to check rig and sheetleads etc - all looks fine and it was so very pleasant actually to be out sailing on the water, rather than tied up at the dock..... Derek of 'Yachting Sports' took photos of the boat as we came back up the river Hamble towards the marina (see top of page).